Posts Tagged ‘talk to a sick friend’

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Grab Bag Break Brief:

Mother, daughter, father, brother… whatever you are, if you are living on this planet,


And I mean that in the simplest of forms. A few minutes, spent in the right way, with the right intent, can lend a whole fresh perspective to the hour, the day, the life.

Here are 50 ways to get that breakPrint…. Practice…. Repeat 🙂


Grab Bag Convo Coaching Part II:

Last week we reviewed the “10 Commandments for Conversing with a Sick Friend”. As an adjunct to those commandments,  I share here clinical psychologist Susan Silk and arbitrator/mediator Barry Goldman as they offer up this great exercise to understand the “circle of grief”:

When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”

“It’s not?” Susan wondered. “My breast cancer is not about me? It’s about you?”

The same theme came up again when our friend Katie had a brain aneurysm. She was in intensive care for a long time and finally got out and into a step-down unit. She was no longer covered with tubes and lines and monitors, but she was still in rough shape. A friend came and saw her and then stepped into the hall with Katie’s husband, Pat. “I wasn’t prepared for this,” she told him. “I don’t know if I can handle it.”

This woman loves Katie, and she said what she did because the sight of Katie in this condition moved her so deeply. But it was the wrong thing to say. And it was wrong in the same way Susan’s colleague’s remark was wrong.

Susan has since developed a simple technique to help people avoid this mistake. It works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. She calls it the Ring Theory.

Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan’s patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.


Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

Comfort IN, dump OUT.

There was nothing wrong with Katie’s friend saying she was not prepared for how horrible Katie looked, or even that she didn’t think she could handle it. The mistake was that she said those things to Pat. She dumped IN.

Complaining to someone in a smaller ring than yours doesn’t do either of you any good. On the other hand, being supportive to her principal caregiver may be the best thing you can do for the patient.

Most of us know this. Almost nobody would complain to the patient about how rotten she looks. Almost no one would say that looking at her makes them think of the fragility of life and their own closeness to death. In other words, we know enough not to dump into the center ring. Ring Theory merely expands that intuition and makes it more concrete: Don’t just avoid dumping into the center ring, avoid dumping into any ring smaller than your own.

Remember, you can say whatever you want if you just wait until you’re talking to someone in a larger ring than yours.

And don’t worry. You’ll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that.

Grab Bag Safety Psych:

Complex issues deserve thoughtful answers, and biologist/activist Sandra Steingraber gives just that to Bill Moyers as he asks her, “Can you give me a few ideas of what mothers and fathers can do to protect their children in this environment?” Her answer is unsettlingly accurate.

Bill Moyers

Grab Bag Wow Moment:

Creative film work… this is what giraffes do when we’re not looking:

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 10.34.46 PMThanks to Pat M. for sending this in.

Grab Bag Gehry Getaway:

For a unique hotel stay, check out Hotel Marqués de Riscal, in Elciego, Spain. Designed by Frank Gehry, when you unpack your bags here you know you are somewhere different.

Lifted from the pages of Houzz.com (if you aren’t a free member of this amazing site, you should be), here is what they say:

Opened in 2006, Gehry’s hotel is in the medieval village of Elciego, near vineyards and historic wine cellars.

The purple and blue titanium ribbon-curl roof cuts a striking scene against the picturesque countryside.

The hotel is actually two wings connected by a suspension footbridge. Each of the 43 luxury rooms and suites has its own distinctive shape and design.

The Executive Suite overlooks some of the hotel’s stunning architecture and comes with a dining area that has modern furniture.

The rooftop lounge and wine bar have panoramic views, a fireplace and a library.

From 300 euros (about U.S.$390) per night

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Grab Bag Good Tips:

Whiten Nails

Nails can yellow over time from wearing darker polish. Here are some remedies to try:

Denture Tablets

Denture tablets whiten and brighten dentures, and denture tablets can also whiten and brighten yellow fingernails. Simply follow instructions for dissolving denture tablets in water, and soak your nails for several minutes. Repeat the process until your nails are lighter and brighter in color.

Real Lemon Juice

Lemons are good for more than making lemonade and other sweet and tangy lemon treats. Real lemon juice can help whiten and brighten yellow nails. Slice open a fresh lemon, and squeeze the juice into a shallow bowl, or use reconstituted lemon juice. Soak your nails in the lemon juice for several minutes, and repeat this treatment as often as necessary. Wash and rinse your hands after treating, and apply lotion to replenish valuable moisture.

Lemon Essential Oil

If you want to moisturize your nails and cuticles while whitening yellow fingernails, try lemon essential oil. Simply pour your favorite lemon essential oil into a shallow bowl, and soak your fingertips for several minutes. Repeat this process whenever you need to whiten, brighten, and condition your nails.

Light Buffing

Fingernails can be lightly buffed to remove light discoloration, but care should be taken when buffing. Besides removing discoloration, buffing encourages nail growth by increasing circulation. Buff in one direction, and use quality buffing materials. Too much buffing or incorrect buffing can actually weaken nails, and if nails end up breaking it won’t matter what color they are.

Whitening Toothpaste

If you get yellow nails after months of wearing dark polish, try scrubbing your nails with a nail brush and whitening toothpaste. It gets rid of the yellow color. Try it—it works pretty well, and you end up with minty fresh toes!

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Build 3,4,5 and 6 letter words from the letters given and watch your garden grow…

Garden Grow

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

More postcards from the edge of decency:

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